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It’s lockdown with Arsenal’s Shkodran

OPINION: Footballers in plush palaces have been telling people in small flats why they must not go outside during the coronavirus crisis

27 March, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi

JUST eight weeks ago, although it feels like eight years ago, Arsenal players were flying back from Dubai without a care in the world. Their lacklustre season had – win, lose or draw – been rewarded with a sunshine holiday as part of England’s new winter break from football.

Even one weekend without a full Premier League fixture then seemed like torture – how spoilt are lives were in those golden days of… February.

This column got mildly irritated back then to see Shkodran Mustafi, the frustrating defender, enjoying himself and posting that enjoyment on social media.

All those ruined weekends and he still got to jet out to the beach.

Now we are in lockdown and, what do you know, Mustafi reached for his phone to instruct us how to wash our hands properly and, of course, to stay home.

These are both eminently sensible pieces of advice… although please tell me you are following them already. Get inside, man.

The age of coronavirus has more or less revealed that most people don’t wash their hands properly even during peacetime, and if somebody saw Mustafi at work in his video lecture and decided to ditch the practice of flinging their hands half in the direction of taps after a wee in the pub toilets, then well done, he’s performed a valuable public service. Sorry to mention pubs btw. One day, folks, one day…

The other bit of advice, staying home, has been delivered by several footballers and celebrities in general.

That’s because nothing tells a bampot who might be tempted to meet their mates in the cemetery for some cider tomorrow night to stay home like a film beamed from a house they’ll never be able to afford.

You see, one after one, very rich people – let’s call them what they are – have been telling people in small flats that they must not go outside.

While they are burrowed away in homes that look like grand hotels, with pools and wood burners descending from the ceiling, many of the people who help pay their wages by going to see their films, buying concert tickets or, in our case, matchday tickets are living in much more modest accommodation. There are families of six squeezed into two rooms down the road.

This is not to say the celebs’ message is wrong. Covid-19 is here and it’s lockdown time to save lives.

But the low-waged or recently made-redundant workers, some of whom might feel they are down on their luck and have nothing to lose by gathering in a group of three, are more likely to be persuaded to stay home by their peers in a similar position than somebody with a Ferrari parked out the front.

This shutdown will not affect the life chances of the mega-rich, the Premier League players, the film stars, the rock stars, but they don’t need to flaunt it in our faces.

No, if you earn £100,000 a week, hide away and come back when you are able to liven up Saturday afternoons again.


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